HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Drake State Community and Technical College and Huntsville Hospital (HH) celebrated the first graduating class from their LPN Launch program.

The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program kicked off in August 2022 with 19 students. On Tuesday, those 19 students were pinned and received their white coats, marking their graduation from the program.

LPN Launch is a joint initiative between Drake State and HH that offers people the chance to become LPNs and embark on an immediate career at the hospital.

The course is three semesters long and is taught by Drake State educators at HH’s Cochran Training Center. The program covers students’ tuition, books and fees for their nursing classes, hoping to alleviate the financial burden for students.

“This partnership represents a powerful alliance between academia and healthcare, addressing our state’s critical need for qualified nursing professionals. LPN Launch removes financial barriers and empowers these healthcare professionals to embark on a rewarding career without delay,” Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims said.

Tuesday’s ceremonies symbolized the transition from the ‘academic’ journey to the ‘practical’ journey. The graduates will now join HH and work with staff to take care of patients.

“It is truly a win-win-win for the students, Drake State, and for Huntsville Hospital. When we announced this new program with Drake in March of last year, we knew that this effort could provide a pipeline of nurses for many years to come,” Huntsville Hospital President and COO Tracy Doughty said.

For more information on the LPN Launch program, click here.